The following chapter of this paper will examine the academic perspective on the Naxalite movement and its complex relationship with Indian government.
The first section of this chapter will focus on the possible causes of the movement’s popularity and its long-lasting existence. To accentuate ties between prevalence of the Naxalites and appalling life standards in the afflicted areas, I shall focus on the core characteristics and appeals of the movement and relate them to the specific issues in regions with strong Naxalite presence.
In the second section of this chapter, I shall discuss the academic approach to the rebels. I will examine two predominant viewpoints on the topic, where some scholars perceive the rebels as a direct and dangerous national security threat while the others see them as an unavoidable result of the insufficient economic development.
The following part of this chapter will analyse the government’s approach to the movement. First of all, it will consider the different attitudes and methods which were employed by the Indian authorities and how did they differ from each other. Secondly I shall analyse the level of success of the aforementioned methods and evaluate their general outcome.
As Collier (2000) argues in his article, areas deprived of economic development where chances for conflict overshadow its possible negative consequences are significantly more prone for insurgency. Also, according to Sockpol (1979:PAGE), the insurgents may be much more likely to be motivated by specific financial or other material profit rather than ethnic or political reasons. However, other factors such as exploitation of a certain ethnicities or their separation from the state’s political centre, either by physical distance or geographic obstacles, have been proven to be in relation with conflict (Buhaug at al, 2008). Around 10 per cent of India’s population is formed by the Adivasis, disadvantaged indigenous tribes belonging to the lowest cast (CENSUS 2001). This poor tribal population tends to dwell in the remote regions where Naxalism first appeared and, among many other territories, remained to this day.
As it has been previously reported, the five states that are affected by the Naxalite crisis the most are all rich on minerals and various energy resources (The Economist, 2007). Moreover, most of those states are inhabited by the tribal population (Government of India, 2008). It may be argued that mineral mining equals a substantial boost for India’s economy, however, it also causes a vast exploitation of the land, contamination of the air, water and ground and various other issues (Morrison, 2012). All of these may cause local grievances – usually dabbed “ethnical” – and further contribute to the crisis as the rural population is often deprived of their only source of income, resulting in further support of the Naxalite movement (Srivastava, 2008; The Telegraph, 2010).
As I previously mentioned in the chapter about the movement’s background, Naxalites avow to be protecting the interests of individuals belonging to the lowest levels of Indian society. Adivasis – the exploited indigenous population – often belong to the lowest of castes, a system that is extremely hard to understand for a foreigner (Reddy, 2005). Shortly, caste is an extremely complex social system based on hierarchy where one’s position is given at birth and in some cases leads to discrimination (Morrison, 2012). Starting in West bengal, the movement gained popularity in many other regions all over India that are mainly rural and where the population tends to be impoverished and often belongs among the aforementioned lowest societal strata – social group that is far from the development and economic advancement of the urban areas (Ahuja & Ganguly,2007). The main target group of the Naxalites consist exactly of those exploited sharecroppers and workers that are naturally attracted by their pro-proletariat programme.
Originally, the rebellion was centred around redistribution of plowable land and restricting forest produce in certain areas, however, the actual issues of the affected regions proved to be much more complex as many other grievances arose – this time of ethnic and political nature (Guha, 2007:PAGE). According to Mason book on revolution and peasantry (2004:PAGE?), India has not experienced a social revolution yet – although some other scholars perceive the Naxalite movement as exactly that. If one considers Skocpol’s (1979:PAGE?) argument that peasant rebellion differs from an actual revolution, one might call the Naxalites a revolutionary movement, that is, however, if their intention are, in fact, genuine and not a mere sham over self-serving violence. It might be also argued that the Naxalites achieved such popularity due to a genuine need for such social revolution within a society with immensely different layers.